World Cup 2018 – Ambush Marketing or Shrewd Placement?

The FIFA World Cup 2018 is coming to the tail end of this 4-year ritual. With the semis underway and the Final game coming on 15th July, this has been a World Cup of both pleasant and unpleasant surprises depending on which team or player you support. The same can be said of the marketing campaigns and brands associated with the prestigious event.

FIFA has an elaborate marketing division which over the years has sought to partner with major brands across the globe. This is to enable them reach the wider audiences as well as enrich existing ones. These partners also serve as sponsors of FIFA’s multiple events with the most prestigious being the World Cup. The multi-tier system has 3 layers – FIFA Partners, FIFA World Cup Sponsors and National Supporters. Among the Partners, the most recognisable is Coca-Cola who’ve managed to maintain a lead over all other partners with the Coca-Cola World Cup Trophy Tour. Adidas sportswear has also maintained a stronghold for on-the-pitch action being the Official Ball sponsors since 1970.

This year though some of the partners have had a mixed performance on their visibility and marketing communication. From our own analysis, the most visible to the least one comes as follows;

  1. Coca-Cola – with its various communications either targeting local/regional audiences and also for the global campaign. Having had a head start with the World Cup Trophy Tour, the brand has its strategy on-point and visible across all platforms – both online and offline. See it’s YouTube ad for Nigeria/West Africa here.
  2. adidas – being one of the other brand associated with the World Cup, the brand has both on-the-pitch advantage and off-the-pitch communication. Every tournament has a new ball designed for use for the tournament.
    adidas' Telstar 18 - Image courtesy of FIFA
    adidas’ Telstar 18 – Image courtesy of FIFA

    This year’s ball ‘Adidas Telstar 18‘ has a futuristic look and feel to enable viewers see the ball as they watched and also equipped with aerodynamics for playing pleasure. In some cases, it has a chip installed ‘to access content and information that is unique to that ball, personalized and localized, providing the consumer with interactivity‘. The digital campaign was equally impressive and incorporated not just footballing greats but other sporting heroes such as tennis champion Caroline Wozniacki; NBA star Damian Lillard; skateboarder Nora Vasconcellos as well as music producer extraordinaire Pharell Williams. Here’s a sneak peek.

  3.  Visa International – the brand had an interesting campaign for the pre-World Cup period where holders and users of Visa cards were eligible to win an all-expenses paid trip to Russia. However the marketing honchos went on a trajectory choosing Zlatan Ibrahimovich as the brand ambassador for this year’s campaign. While his country Sweden qualified for the event and even went as far as the quarters, it’s strange to choose a player who would not be present at the World Cup.  Others may point to the fact that bookings and payment at the event in Russia were made mainly using Visa, the campaigns gave a mixed bag of communication to its target audience. See the ad here – ‘Don’t Miss a Goal

In our local scene, Kenyan companies went creative with their campaigns most if not all looking to cash in on the World Cup communication. Here are some of the most interesting ones;

  1. Safaricom – with its mix of GIGA Football Pass and association with Kwese Sports and iflix, the telco got it spot-on with the campaign that almost makes it synonymous with the World Cup. This particular campaign has been consistent across all platforms – from online to offline, radio and TV ads. Good one!

    Kwese-iFlix streams - image courtesy of www.kwesesports.com
    Kwese-iFlix streams – image courtesy of www.kwesesports.com
  2. Uber – sprinkled around the city are strategically placed billboards prompting commuters the need to use the mobility app instead of driving their own vehicles. One interesting piece goes something like, ‘Make it Safely through the quarters, semis and final. Don’t drink and drive’. Simple, effective and concise.
  3. Sony – having been trumped by Chinese electronics maker Hisense for the 2018 World Cup, the Korean-based brand did its bit of seeking to attract consumers to purchase its brands. Armed with bold and elaborate images on their billboards as well as discounted offers, the brand still remains among top of mind TV brands for a big screen or any screen for that matter.

Critics may say that brands have taken advantage and ‘ambushed’ their target customers. Football brand critics may argue too that such major brands ought to pay up for the right to use some of the images or association with the World Cup – tough nut to crack. Whatever marketing communication and messaging that has been screened, broadcast or shared with audiences across the world, the World Cup has truly been memorable for us.

SportPesa’s Sponsorship Withdrawal – Biggest Gamble

2018 Cometh……

2017 has been one momentous year for the country. Even in the world of sport, it has been a well mix in the basket. Talking of baskets, tongues are wagging about the biggest sponsors of sport in Kenya – SportPesa – who are thinking of pulling back their bountiful offering, effectively reducing its involvement in sports in Kenya. What does this portend for sports in 2018?

We got the world...(image courtesy of SportPesa)
We got the world…(image courtesy of SportPesa)

A few posts ago, we predicted the impact of sports betting companies on our sports scene. A casual look at Kenyan sport in the last 3 years has seen a major impact both directly and indirectly on how we consume and interact with sport.
A PwC report on Kenya Entertainment and Media 2013-17 , revenues from sports betting were projected to rise from US$ 11.7 million (2012) to $17.3 million (2017).
As of writing this post, there are about 25 sports betting (and gambling )companies registered in Kenya. The biggest and easily recognisable is SportPesa – operating BCLB (Betting Control & Licensing Board) license no. 673 through Pevans EA Ltd.

Conservative estimates of sports betting and its impact to the economy are at between KES 635-700 million p.a. This is mainly in sports sponsorship, direct spending in improving sports facilities and teams, as well as employment. Add another KES. 2.4 billion in media spend (various media research reports in 2017) – from digital, print, radio and TV – as well as daily spends and we’re talking of billions of shillings!

The synergy enjoyed by both betting and telecoms companies have seen the mobile money in Kenya grow to daily transactions worth KES 18.4 billion! A good fraction of the monies are from your common man on the street, to the discerning campus student and many in blue-collar jobs who review their odds every other morning to make the winnings.

SportPesa Success

Back to SportPesa, the upsurge of sports betting in Kenya can be attributed to its adeptness and adaptability to their audience. As aptly summarised by BetMoran on the post titled ‘ Why SportPesa is very successful‘ the main points include;

  • Consumer spend – 50,000 users spending an average of KES. 500 = KES 25 million per month;
  • High and engaged web audience – an average of 16-18 million users every month (if using Google AdSense-this is another revenue stream);
  • Consumer education – when launching in 2014 just in time for the World Cup, SportPesa has continually educated its target audience on its various betting platforms and options;
  • Mobile technology – as noted above, riding the wave of over 25 million unique mobile phone connections, SportPesa was able to ride the wave of mobile money and making it integral in its platforms;
  • Media spend and engagement- as of Aug 2017, SportPesa was the biggest ad spending firm in media in Kenya rivalling telecoms and FMCGs such as Safaricom, Coca-Cola and P&G that have traditionally been high spenders in these.
  • Timing – launching in time for the 2014 World Cup, the brand was able to take advantage of the biggest sports extravaganza in the world. Pray they’re already looking forward to the 2018 one…

Enter GoK’s hand

In May/June 2017, the Treasury CS tabled proposals to tax sports betting firms in Kenya as high as +50% of the daily collections. While it is not our forte in matters taxation, with the numbers mentioned above, it would be foolhardy to assume this would not attract the Treasury technocrats. Given its agenda to invest in infrastructure including the now-on-then-off stadia development, the GoK has had a tough year in looking to bridge the budget deficit.

Sports betting firms did what is becoming our typical litigious selves in Kenya and took to court to stop the tax measures. The case to nullify the tax measures was dismissed last week, effectively attracting a 35% tax cap on the gross earnings of the sports betting firms effective January 2019.

As of close of 2017, the tax percentages were as follows;

  • 5% of lottery sales;
  • 7.5% for betting firms and bookmakers;
  • 12% for casino gambling and
  • 15% for raffles.
  • Additional taxes include 30% corporate tax and 25% of their total sales dedicated to social causes, including sports activities.

SportPesa is currently involved in major sporting disciplines including;

a) Football – FKF, Premier League, Super 8 , Gor Mahia FC, AFC Leopards FC and Nakuru All Stars FC

b) Rugby – through KRU, National 7s team and Kenya Harlequins;

c) Boxing – Boxing Association of Kenya and boxer Fatima Zarika;

d) Rallying – by sponsoring Leonardo Varese.

Other sponsorship includes shirt sponsoring Everton FC; sports partnership with Arsenal FC, Southampton FC and Hull City as well as La Liga in Spain.

All these associations are likely to be affected in one way or the other once the firm confirms its future role in sponsoring sports in Kenya and overseas too.

Having started expanding its geographical reach in the region to both Uganda and Tanzania, the main market still remains the local scene. The firm’s perceived close links within the GoK will also be exploring ways of either reducing the burden of taxation or enjoying tax holidays for a little longer than the prescribed date.

Way Out?

  1. National Sports Lottery – the establishment of this lottery is long overdue. The GoK through the Ministry of Culture and Sports ought to have fast-tracked this in the last 3 years. Among the many options would be to push for all betting and gambling companies to remit part of their monthly revenues to this common Fund. The monies raised would be apportioned to the sports associations proportionate to the scope of the sport and planned activities for the year. This has worked successfully in countries such as the UK.
  2. Commensurate Social Responsibility – in South Africa, betting and gambling companies have to engage a fair amount of their revenues to corporate social responsibility. While it may not be a sustainable business model for sports business, it is a means to the end of sports development in parts of the world as this.
  3. Lobbying – while we are not privy to what may have happened along the corridors of Parliament and the delays in confirmation of respective committees, it would serve them well to lobby the legislators to reduce the impact of the taxation on their revenues. Alternatively they can give their options of tax regime or tax holiday for those setting up to their 2nd or 3rd year upon which the applicable tax kicks in.

As of 1st January 2018, SportPesa had sought to appeal the ruling in the courts seeking to overturn the ruling. In the meantime, all local sponsorship stands suspended.

To managing the taxman and his demands, a lot still needs to be done to reach a consensus. For the sports organisations likely to be affected, a common ground on appealing to those in Government can be pursued.

It remains to be seen how the biggest gamble will finally play out in 2018.

 

Kenya Sevens – Seven Top Moments of the Rugby 7s team

2016 marks a momentous year for the game of rugby and in particular the shorter version in the Sevens. Taking a look at both the 2015/2016 IRB Sevens Series and the Olympic Games in Rio in August, Kenya’s team is well-placed to claim its place and maybe rewrite history too…
20 years ago, the Kenya 7s affectionately known as Kenya Shujaa team journey started in earnest as one of the most exciting and hard-working teams in the rugby series. It also marked a start of its major sporting event in Kenya in the Safari Sevens. Through this storied past, we have decided to take a sneak peek of the top 7 moments of the game in the last 20 years since it gained prominence in this part of the world.


[NOTE: This is no scientific list and its given its order more by the chronology of events.]

1. Kenya qualifies for 3rd Edition of Rugby Sevens World Cup (2001) in Argentina

It had taken about 5 years to build a formidable team. The team had played as an invitational team at the Middlesex 7s,  Commonwealth Games in 1998, as as Dubai and Stellenbosch legs of the inaugural IRB Sevens series in 1999. The Safari Sevens also worked to whip up local team support and appetite for the game, as well as expose the team to opposition of similar experience.
At the third edition of the Rugby Sevens World Cup, Kenya announced its entry into the global stage.
From Africa there were its more fancied counterparts in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Though the team didn’t score any victories thus finishing last in the Pool (along with Fiji, Argentina, South Korea, Russia and Ireland), they did play in the Bowl beating France 12-5 before losing in the semis to Chile.

2. Kenya beats Australia – Hong Kong Sevens (2002) – IRB Sevens Series 2002/2003

Following good outings in 2001 and 2002 in various invitational tournaments and the Commonwealth Games, Shujaa team was slowly cementing its place in the game. In 2002 at Wellington 7s in New Zealand, Kenya caused a major upset topping Australia 15-12. By the end of the IRB series, Kenya was placed in the ninth position finishing within the top 10 bracket.

Ben Ayimba’s a coming for you…Image courtesy of www.kenyapage.net

The performances in this season helped the team’s campaign in becoming a core team of the IRB Sevens Series in 2004. The series usually comprises of 15 ‘core’ teams named each season depending on their experience and performance of past seasons.

3. Kenya finishes joint 3rd at 5th Edition of Rugby Sevens World Cup (2009) in Dubai,UAE
Come 2009, the Shujaa team was enjoying a rare era of success despite having a semi-professional team. It had managed to groom some great talent that even one of its players became coach and helped it one of its best seasons ever.
That player was none other than Benjamin Ayimba. Initial skepticism coming from many quarters was quickly vanquished when the team reached 7 out of 9 semi-finals and 1 final of the IRB series. In H. Kayange and C. Injera, the team had two players who came of age and produced try after try.

In the same year, the Rugby Sevens World Cup was held in Dubai, UAE. They played in a tight pool consisting of England, Tunisia and Hong Kong emerging second.  The team scored a major win over Fiji beating them 26-7 in the quarter-finals, before losing out to Argentina in the semi-finals. The team would finish joint 3rd with Samoa.

These accomplishments saw the team’s Collins Injera and Humphrey Kayange awarded the Order of the Golden Warrior (OGW) by the Head of State for their role.

4. Kenya beats New Zealand  AND
Kenya reaches Final  of Wellington Sevens (2013) – IRB Sevens Series 2012/2013

2010 and 2011 were tough years for the team and the mixed performances had the Kenya Rugby Union and sponsors influence the hiring of the management team. On the field though, Kenya Shujaa had by now become a crowd favourite and attracting attention across the series tournaments.
Once again, at the Wellington 7s, the team bested a top seed this time ,the hosts New Zealand in a memorable game. The game ended 19-14 to mark Kenya’s first roll into a Final.

In the final, Kenya was primed to play England – so much for patriotism on the side of coach Mike Friday who’s English native. If the semi-final game was a toughee, the final was a cracker and nerve-wrecking affair, requiring extra-time to be decided. And were it not for captain Andrew Amonde and Oscar Ouma being sin-binned, maybe it would have gone either way…see below;

5. Kenya finishes 5th in IRB Sevens Series for 2012/2013

Sterling performance by Kenya Shujaa finishing in its best ever position , 5th in the IRB Series deserves a mention. Given Mike Friday’s hard work with the team (we all remember how massive they all suddenly looked even for winger Collins ‘Collo’ Injera who had a tough season with the cancellation of his contract).
There were suddenly vested interests in the game some being from the Board and also the interference with the management and contractual issues. This notwithstanding the team put in its best boot forward.

6. Kenya finishes 4th in 6th Edition of Rugby Sevens World Cup (2013) in Russia

The team’s performance in the IRB series meant the team was girded with positive energy going into the Luzhniki stadium, Moscow, Russia. The most outstanding had winger Willy Ambaka being voted into the IRB Series for 2012/13 Dream Team. Pool C pitted Kenya against Samoa, African rivals-Zimbabwe and Philippines. The team topped the pool and advanced to the quarters beating France 24-19. Once again Mike Friday’s charges were to face a familiar foe, England. It was another closely-contested game ending 12-5 for the English.

Willy Ambaka whizzes past a New Zealand player – image courtesy of AFP

With the team seemingly disappointed to have to play in the third-place play-off, they lost 29-5 to the Fijians. What was worse was the how the management were treated with Friday tendering his resignation as the obnoxious now became putrid. His departure marked the end of a fairy tale season and downward trajectory of the team for the next two seasons.

7. Kenya qualifies for Olympic Games in Rio (2016)

Having endured a rough 2013/2014 and 2014/2015, the Kenyan team had one last chance to redeem itself. The change of technical bench from Paul Treu to former international Felix Totty Ochieng had not brought back the spark to the team’s performance. Many even started questioning if the team still deserved to be accorded the ‘core team’ status. It was a trying time indeed with the 2015 Safari Sevens – which usually serves as a warm-up to the team’s IRB series – having the lowest attendance ever in recent times. Tournament sponsor Safaricom had earlier in the year withdrawn its support meaning the 7s circuit was a dour affair leading to the scenario described above in the Safari Sevens.
The 2014/15 season was used to select automatic qualification to the 2016 Olympics. This was given to the top 4 teams at the end of the season. Kenya missed this badly and had to settle for the African Olympic qualifiers.
A few positives though were the return of Richard Omwela to head the Kenya Rugby Union. Choosing to go retro and nostalgic the Board chose Ben Ayimba to steady the ship. The team also had a mix of talent bringing on board tested players as well as grooming the new talent for the 2015/2016 busy season.
In the Final of the qualifiers, Kenya faced arch-rival Zimbabwe. The latter looked like they had secured the place scoring a try in the dying seconds, almost putting the game beyond Kenya’s reach. However a moment of inspiration from speedy Dennis Ombachi saved the day and as they say the rest is ….watch below;

Quick Notes:

  1. Kenya Rugby Union officials have indicated they have worked on the players contracts and they can rest easy as they play in the Series for 2016.
  2. Collins Injera  will be chasing more tries seeking to catch Argentina’s Santiago Gomez’s tally of 230 tries and England’s Ben Gollings 220 tries.Possible? Who knows…

Semper fortis Kenya Shujaa !!!

World Relays gives Kenyan Athletes ‘Golden Shine’

This past weekend marked the inaugural World Relays under the auspices of IAAF hosted in the Caribbean island of Bahamas ( the natives called Bahamians, more like Bohemian Rhapsody…I digress).

World Relays Bahamas 2014 – image courtesy of www.iaaf.org

The 2-day event had some really good action for any sports and athletics enthusiasts. Stealing some of the attention for the more popular football (soccer in other quarters), was a huge gamble but for those few moments the Championships produced some sparkle. The c’ships had 10 events billed as the Golden Baton which included the more common and widely accepted

  • 4 x 100m ( both men and women)
  • 4 x 400m 
But also other races including;
  • 4 x 200m  or 2 lap event
  • 4 x 800m or 8-lap event
  • 4 x 1500m or 15-lap event.
As expected some athletics powerhouses such as the US and Jamaica sent strong teams especially in the short(er) sprints. Kenya too sent very strong teams in what were expected to be its specialties in the middle races. After what might have been a fiasco in national team selection, the team redeemed itself winning 3 out of its targeted 4 Gold medals and each of those in World Record times. There was also special mention of the 4 x 400m Kenyan men’s team which featured in the Final B ending up in the tail end of the proceedings. 
A few lessons too could be taken by the Kenyans from these Games;
a) Preparations – The national selection method employed by Athletics Kenya was not the most scientific and suited for this purpose. This led to an almost disjointed effort in preparing the team for the c’ships. In future, it would not hurt to make proper preparations for national selection and onward camp for participants.
b) Tactics– while we may not have been with the coaches and managers, some of the tactics employed  cost the team valuable points and wins. For example, the 4 x 800m women’s race decision to run a fairly inexperienced Busienei in the first leg saw Kenya lose her position to lead and ultimately play catch up to the US team. 
c) More Country representation – being the inaugural c’ships not every country was able to send representatives and some sent some more junior and inexperienced runners. Beijing in 2015, you can be sure it will not be a walk-over even for Kenya even in the middle races that we seem to have such a stronghold. Ethiopia, Algeria, Morocco and even Uganda will want to prove a point or two. We saw what is happening in the marathons and 10K races in other championships. And it is not just the Africans breathing down the necks of Kenyans, Russia, Romania and other European countries always fancy challenging Kenyan athletes.
Kenya’s 4 x 1500m Women’s team image courtesy of www.iaaf.org
d) Track and Field Clubs – while Kenya has traditionally had no problem in producing talent especially for the middle and long distances, our performances in the shorter races of 400m, 200m and 100m have been dismal. Save for the occasional suprise in the 400m, the others don’t seem to feature in our calendar. 
One way of encouraging this is forming running/sprint clubs that can be situated in 2-3 cities in the country. Rigorous training and exposure will see us in good stead. Investing in the necessary infrastructure such as tartan running tracks, gyms, sports scientists and nutritionists is integral too. The US has Santa Monica Track Club(which produced among others sprint legend Carl Lewis), Jamaica has the MVP Track and Field Club
(with women sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser in its stable). Why can’t Kenya invest in one too?
e) Reward System – though this has been ongoing with the gold medal winners in major games such as Olympics and Commonwealth getting national honours, more can be done to earn our athletes their worth. The mileage enjoyed by their participation and winning is more than the fancy budgets and trips that tourism officials seek to justify for their activities. There has been talk of an Athletics Hall of Fame by Athletics Kenya but this ought to be a public-private partnership by all parties concerned.
For now let’s enjoy the shine of winning 3 Gold medals and records to boot. In 2015, I don’t see why Kenya should not bag 4 Gold medals and Bronze or two in the shorter races. Optimistic perhaps? 

Quick recap:
Kenya won Gold in the 4 x 800m (men), 4 x 1500m (men and women) and Silver in 4 x 800m (women).
In Related News:
When Safaricom Limited announced that it had secured the naming rights of Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi,  its current CEO Bob Collymore intimated that one of the areas of focus would be investing in the shorter races. This was echoing earlier sentiments made in 2012 when he was awarding the Olympic heroes. True to their word, the company sponsored the National Relay series which almost ended in confusion after Athletics Kenya couldn’t agree on a proper formula for the competition. In future, national associations should have proper blueprints for events such as this. Having secured funding and sponsorship such as Safaricom’s makes it easier to consult experts and host more successful events. 
For future Relay events, Athletics Kenya can do better by letting the respective branches come up with teams which can then compete at the series of trials in Nairobi and any other city deemed suitable. This will not only attract new talent but also expose potential athletes to specialisations beyond the individual races they usually do.
As for Safaricom Limited, your investment may start bearing fruit sooner than expected…

Safari 7s at 17 … 3rd time over with Safaricom

For many of us the number 17 marks quite a sobering moment in one’s life. Be it that you’re just under an year from the age of the majority ( with a superfluous definition of youth to boot…), have cleared high school and waiting to join university or college or depending on which country you come from, have attained your driving license ( and for some your legal drinking age…in Kenya it still is 18 years as Mututho would remind us).
Well for Kenya Rugby Union’s prized possession in Safari Sevens or better #Safari7s, this will be the 17th edition of the biggest 3-day rugby tournament in East Africa. For those not particularly familiar with the shorter version of the game, it happened on the scene a little into the 1990s and Kenya was quick to adopt it and has borne fruits albeit with mixed results. Not to underestimate Kenya’s contribution to the game but our very own Humphrey Kayange was part of the team that rooted for the inclusion of the 7s version to the Olympic Games sports. This shall debut in 2016 in Rio, Brazil.
Back to #Safari7s, this year the tournament will be used once again to gauge the national team’s players preparedness for the 2012/13 season. It shall also mark the national team’s head coach Mike Friday’s first ever outing with his charges and what better way than right here at home in front of the Kenyan crowds.
And right from the selection, there is a distinction that this is not your usual style of play and every player will have to fight for his place in the national team when the IRB 7s circuit starts in October in Australia’s Gold Coast.
There will be 2 other national sides from Portugal and Spain that will also be using the tournament to prepare their teams for the IRB 7s circuit. There is also the Samurais who have a number of New Zealand’s All Blacks’ players. This year’s IRB series is slightly different in the sense that emerging countries’ teams that drop from their previous ranking , there will be a relegation/promotion system. This means that every tournament and point counts. No more poor finishes, no more dropping the ball and no more excuses waiting for the future.
Against this backdrop and the fact that the national KRU 7s circuit has just come to an end and emerging talent being ingrained into the team, we should not expect anything less than the main prize. It may not be too much to ask as the team was eliminated last year in the semi-finals. These are by-gones and the new management team should get the win to get the team into its stride of an expected better performance in the 2012/13.

Mobile provider Safaricom once again are the title sponsors for the 3rd year running and its 2nd year at a stadium setting ( at Nyayo National stadium). The tournament has become one of the biggest sporting event for Kenyan sports fans and once again, the crowds are expected to mill the ground. Though security concerns have been expressed in recent spates in the country, over 500 security officers from both public and private firms have been contracted to ensure the tournament sails on well.
It shall be no less for us and shall be on the sidelines to watch and cheer our Kenyan team(s) along. We hope you do make time too in this 3rd weekend of September ( teachers’ strike, lecturers’ boycotts and doctors’ downing their stethoscopes notwithstanding…)

For more detailed information, go to www.safarisevens.com or follow their Twitter handle @safaricom7s or check the hash-tags #Safaricom7s or #Safari7s

Safaricom Safari 7s 2011 – Hit or Miss?

This year’s Safari 7s in its second year under Safaricom’s sponsorship stable marked one of another’s Kenya major milestones on the sporting calendar (notice how Safari 7s and Safaricom 7s sound synonymous…?). We managed to spend at least a better part of the weekend following the action live and seeing the activity on both social and other media. Here’s our take;
Hit: Venue
Most of the controversy plaguing the event was the shift of the venue from its traditional home at RFUEA Grounds on Ngong Road to the more spacious ground at Nyayo National Stadium. The beauty of it was the space available for fans; service providers who included caterers, entertainment and parking lot. This was evident from the concert held on tail-ends of all days as they engaged the discerning younger-at-heart crowd. For security purposes too, the stadium was an easier venue for the security apparatus though at times the security personnel got over-zealous in their searches.
The pitch was a little bumpy of course due to the fact that it hosts most of the Kenya Premier League games but it was well-maintained and the markings and extensions done in good time to save rugby players adjusting. The warm-up areas were also a welcome relief for all teams before and after each game.

Miss: VIP, Canopy please?
For those who paid a little extra for VIP, except for the plastic seats and some partial cover from stadium setting, there really wasn’t much else to write home about. In fact some of those who were at the ‘Russian stands’ seemed to enjoy more of the happenings on the grounds. Also when it came to the elements, majority of the crowd was exposed especially when the rains descended on the grounds on Sunday. For future events, event organisers can source some form of canopies which can be drawn and retracted as and when necessary.

Hit: Ticketing
For sometime now the ticketing for the event had been on an upward movement but somehow the crowds still managed to make way to the former venue. Maybe it was the mystic of the game or the euphoria related to the Kenya Sevens team. This year, the ticketing was well-tiered, affordable and also offered various points of purchase. Some are of the opinion that the prices should go down further but economies of scale and recouping for organisers and KRU suggest otherwise.

Miss: Top Teams, Main Guest
While we saw the likes of Samoa in town to the Samurais and Auckland Vikings (who make up much of the Fijian and New Zealand national 7s teams), it would have been better to have more IRB circuit teams on board. We have also seen the likes of Chester Williams, Gordon Tietjens to name but a few who have proved to be star attractions for those who follow the international game. It had been rumoured that there would be a big name coming but alas.

Hit: Media Centre
For those who got lucky to access the media centre, it had a great working environment. Equipped with handy laptops with fairly good Internet speeds, the place was always a buzz with activity. Save for a few big egos who hogged workstations for hours on end, those who were in it for their professional jobs found a quick way to upload information, images and keep those not at the venue abreast with the developments. Also compared to last year’s one, this one didn’t suffer from the elements when the weather suddenly pulled suprises on all. Kudos too to the catering teams for keeping the media peoples well-fed & watered!

Miss: Kenyan Team not making the Finals
Well, this was not entirely suprising for any follower of the national team. This was the first outing for the technical team marshalled by one Mitch Ocholla (Twitter handle @mokojolo) deputised by Charles Cardovillis. Both individuals have their work cut out now from this showing. Also the boys in the team were slow off the blocks due to minimal play since the team reassembled. There were individual touches and plays but as a team, there is lots of work to be done. The Gold Coast Sevens fixtures are real baptism of fire, but if that’s not what you need I don’t know what else you will.

Hit: Time Management
Most tournaments and events of such magnitude usually fail largely to lack of time management. Many who came thinking that fixtures and games would be delayed due to one reason or the other were shocked. Except for the last day when the downpour almost made it impossible for the pitch, the games went on and finished on time. Day 2 and Day 3 being the main attraction were well-managed and ended in good time. The Final was held and done by 6p.m.( even the trophy presentation too). Kudos to KRU on this one!

Miss: Corporate Sponsors Lost?
Some of the corporate sponsors had some great banners and logos on the communication both on print and other media. But most did not utilise it to the best of their abilities. This is a question posed to marketing and brand managers, when you seek to sponsor a major event of such magnitude surely you don’t expect the event organisers to also ‘sell your communication’ and/or ‘promote your products’. Still on corporate sponsors, where were the Brand Kenya and other bodies promoting Kenya as a destination ?

Hit: Live Coverage:
For some who had thought the ball had gone from SuperSport, how wrong you were! They not only brought in some of their best hands in broadcasting but also had the games live on SS9 throughout the tournament. And for those who managed to catch it, it was a beautiful sight to behold. We had our own gents and ladies handling the pre and post-game interviews (including one Herbert Mwachiro @herbotawa & a lady who’s name eludes me, but has a great voice and looks to match…)

Some Hope:
– Hoping to stage a circuit leg in the IRB Sevens Series , this is a step in the right direction, but a lot more needs to be done. Majorly attracting bigger teams, attracting more fans and also more investment by corporate sponsors. This will make it easier to attract and pay for premium services and promises to give a boost to event organisers.
– Still on the venue, some die-hard fans felt that the game’s been taken away from them, since the playing area was slightly further from the fans stands. The same comment too came from some of the players. But this being a first, we shall hope to see more fans streaming in next year to give it that electric aura. And as one Mr. Jack Ojiambo ( he of Capital FM 98.4 Jazz Club) said, each one of the participants took something with them and shall be ambassadors of the event wherever they go across the globe. 
– Also there were some unconfirmed reports that rugby authorities might consider taking the Safari 7s to Kasarani which is almost complete from renovations. We hope it is just that because another change of venue will surely see fans down to a trickle and display apathy to new settings.
All in all ,we enjoyed ourselves and hope the Kenyan rugby 7s team now embarks on some serious rebuilding to get their act together by 25th November to start the challenge for 2011-2012 IRB Sevens Series. Over to you Mitch and the Co!

For some interesting images from the weekend action check this link , http://japho1.blogspot.com/

Zuku making in-roads in Kenyan Rugby: Title Sponsors for Impala Floodlights 2011

Yesterday’s unveiling of official sponsor Zuku , continues the local (or it is regional yet?)multi-media’s company (Wananchi Group) in-roads in local sport. Starting with a suprise package last year of sponsoring the Kenya v/s Zimbabwe Victoria Cup tie and even securing screening rights, the media company has sought to change the sporting scene and is slowly making its mark especially in rugby. (…coincidentally in both cases, the sponsorship has been for the magical figure of KSh. 2 million each…)

ZUKU logo courtesy of www.zuku.co.ke

Rugby purists have not been entirely amused by these entreaties made to the Kenya Rugby Union since an earlier arrangement with SuperSport was seeing the Kenyan game getting more coverage and the sports media powerhouse was in the process of making substantial investment in the local game and production only for this to be dropped. Up until the writing of this post, it is not known who will screen Kenya’s premiere rugby event the Safari Sevens though title sponsors Safaricom have already confirmed their willingness to continue supporting the event.
Kenya Rugby officials need be informed that while it is good to have companies coming on board with the much-needed financial support, it is also fair to review and where possible NOT ANTAGONISE existing corporate sponsors. Our sources tell us there has been some tension among top officials due to this gung-ho way of conducting rugby business. It will be fair to evaluate existing support and negotiate for better terms with these firms rather than going behind their backs to find new partners.
This was part of the reason the move of the Safari 7s to Nyayo stadium has not augured well with the staunchest of supporters in rugby and by extension traditional rugby powerhouses (without naming any for now).

All the same, we applaud Wananchi Group through ZUKU for making their case with the 30th edition of the Impala Floodlights. We shall be watching your move as you engage in local sport and pray that your worthy support can continue to other sporting disciplines as well. You can also explore developing cutting-edge programming in sports for your local audience and clientele which is still deficient of any comprehensive sports magazines.

See y’all at the Impala Grounds for the next 4 weekends!

Football Figures : Show Me The Money !!!

2010 achieved many milestones but one major highlight was a return of the local football fans to the football grounds. Traditional rivalries in the form of AFC v/s Gor and newfound ones such as Sofapaka v/s Thika United all made us stream back to the stadiums. Of course there were the unforgettable scenes at Nyayo Stadium when fans died as they waited to watch the AFC/Gor game in November.

With the local mainstream media houses also finally appreciating the Kenyan game, and creating a buzz where necessary, the numbers have started to show.
Local media monitoring house, ReelForge , owned in part by Mugo Githongo ( for those who don’t know he’s brother to John Githongo, former Kenyan anti-corruption czar). According to recent findings as released to the Press, Kenya Premier League (KPL) was able to attract media coverage worth KShs. 686 million ( USD 8.575 million) over the period of March – November 2010. These figures are what the media firm termed as equivalent to Advertising Value Equivalent, that is, what KPL editorial coverage would cost if it were advertising space.

Top Teams were as follows;
1. Gor Mahia –        KShs. 200 million
2. AFC Leopards – KShs. 155 million
3. Tusker FC –        KShs. 150 million

The corporate firms which also got a fair share of coverage thanks to their mentions were;
1. KCB                  KShs. 378 million
2. Safaricom           KShs. 166 million
3. Zain                    KShs.  89 million
What is suprising though is that of the major corporate firms mentioned, only KCB has actively sponsored top flight footbal consistently. Safaricom and Orange have been sponsoring youth football and regional tournaments respectively and haven’t made headways into the mainstream game.
How good it would be if these figures were actually translated to tangibles and the clubs able to benefit from the same. It would also serve well for the clubs now to raise the stakes and get professional consultants to pursue corporate sponsorships – be it team, shirt or as maybe prescribed – they have such numbers to show for it.
Kenyan companies also need loosen up their purses and avoid knee-jerk approaches to investing in sports.
Coupled with the 4-year TV rights deal signed by SuperSport worth around KShs. 400 million, Kenyan clubs might finally start living it up. Hopefully this shall trickle down to the players and aid in managing the teams effectively. It would be a great pleasure to see our team move up to the levels of African Champion League participants, Enyimba, Al-Alhy, Zamalek and recent wonderboys TP Mazembe ! Is this the year for Kenyan football to finally come of age?

SOYA Awards – Safaricom keeps their promise…

The Kenyan sporting scene is not always the easiest to navigate and as sports people we can assure you it also not the easiest to sell to Kenyan corporate firms. But once again Paul Tergat has managed to pull the strings and wow Safaricom and get overall sponsorship for the annual Kenyan sports awards scheme, SOYA.

You can view some of the action from the SOYA Awards 2009 here;
Having filled in a vacuum left out (as usual by the public sector Government ), these awards have become a permanent feature in Kenya’s sporting scene. As a celebration of Kenya’s sporting exploits across the world, it has sought to inspire young talent to engage in sport as well as showcase and appreciate our own – with some token ( money & trophies in this case).
We shall update on the date (likely to be in December 2010) and also cover it as we always do. See more media reports, here and here too.

Africa Athletics Championships: Some Semblance of Action Finally…

Well, trying to outdo a major event such as the World Cup is truly an enormous task but Athletics Kenya is finally putting up some form of activity to back their word on the upcoming Africa Athletics Championships in last weekend of July to 1st August.
After securing title sponsorship through Safaricom and a term I’ve never heard before of ‘The Presenting Sponsor’, and also getting the Outdoor Advertising Association of Kenya to sign a deal that will see some major billboards give added visibility to the event; we can breath a brief sigh of relief.
The arduous task left for the association now is to make sure they can whip up local fans who have never really developed an appetite for athletics events , save for the road races and marathons that have become quite a feature in local calendars. The coverage also needs to be seamlessly and seeing as the support received so far is almost adequately covered, they can’t afford to mess this one up.
We shall hope to gain some insights as we approach the event but the mean-time find more updates and info on the event here – www.nairobi2010.com